A surveillance scheme has been launched that uses NHS hospital data to provide a snapshot of the number of assaults taking place each year in Scotland.

Injury Surveillance will be rolled out at hospitals across the country and will provide details on the nature, location and time of attacks to build an accurate picture of how many assaults take place.

The information will then be used by police to improve the efficiency of officer deployment in areas identified as violence hot spots.

The scheme has already had success during trials in Cardiff, where the number of patients treated at accident and emergency was cut by 20 per cent following its introduction.

Carol McLeod, Injury Surveillance project leader, said: “We estimate between 3 per cent and 6 per cent of the health budget in Scotland is spent on treating victims of violence.

“Much of that violence, for example alcohol-related violence, is preventable. Yet targeting problem areas can be difficult - studies show violence is under-reported by as much as 50 per cent to 70 per cent.

“That means victims are being denied access to relevant services and the police are allocating resources based on only a fraction of the necessary information. That’s why Injury Surveillance is so important.”